Election results current as of 4:25 p.m. on November 17.
With only a dozen ballots left to count in Whatcom County, excluding late-arriving votes from absentee and out-of-state voters, the Blaine school board is set to see three newcomers and a change in district for one incumbent when members are sworn-in in January 2024.
The looming $14 million budget shortfall that forced the cutting of roughly 60 district jobs this past summer was the top issue for most candidates.
Erika Creydt unseated Kimberly Akre for the district 1 position, winning with 64.7 percent (3,822) of the vote. Creydt, a third-generation Blaine resident who was appointed to serve the district 3 board position in 2021, won a majority of votes in all 18 precincts.
In her written responses to the candidate Q&A in The Northern Light prior to elections, Creydt sees the enrollment decrease as a huge problem for the district to tackle, especially with state funding expected to shrink in upcoming budgets. Creydt wrote that highlighting parent perspectives and “fostering a culture from the top down that encourages communication,” between students, parents and faculty as a blueprint for keeping students in the district.
For the district 2 board seat, Ben Lazarus defeated Dean Berkeley with 61.4 percent (3,696) of ballots in his favor. Lazarus also won all 18 precincts.
Lazarus, who has two children attending Blaine High School, said in his candidate Q&A he doesn’t want the looming $14 million budget deficit to force cuts to things that he says draw in more students, like arts and sports programs.
It is unclear what programs, if any, will be cut or reduced to meet budget requirements, but Washington state law requires every public-school student to have “access to arts education.”
Cliff Freeman defeated Jeff Carrington for the district 3 position, winning 62.7 percent (3,695) of the vote as of November 9.
In his written responses to The Northern Light, Freeman said he is adamantly opposed to any new taxes or levies to increase revenue to the district. Freeman also wrote he intends to review school curriculum and state requirements, which he called “craziness.”
Freeman wrote that the school board needs to “stop the woke agenda that is poisoning the minds of our kids.”
In the position 4 race, Ryan Ford defeated Derrick Bovenkamp with 59.2 percent (3,472) of the vote.
Ford told The Northern Light he plans on exploring novel options to garner more funding for the district, like government or even private sector grants. Ford also believes there is a growing rift between the teaching staff and the district that is in need of mending.
“There is a lot of repair needed [between teachers and administration] and I want to see what can be done through open communication with teachers,” Ford wrote.
Don Leu, who has been on the school board since 2022, ran unopposed for district 5, winning 98.9 percent of all votes. Leu earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, and is a retired University of Connecticut professor. He’s authored numerous books on literacy education and taught elementary school in the Bay Area.
The election will be certified November 28.
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